Saturday, January 24, 2015

January Daybook

Outside my window...
The boys were playing hockey in the driveway yesterday afternoon and called the rest of us out to the front porch to watch the sunset. It was gorgeous!

I am thinking...
I didn't participate in any of the online discussions about the Pope's recent comments, but I did have a little conversation about them with my husband and our oldest son must have been listening... I couldn't help laughing as I was reading the final draft of his Five Paragraph Interview Essay yesterday and noticed the simile he chose to include as required by his Student Writing Intensive checklist!

I am thankful... 
I am so thankful that our Dentist's office lets us schedule so many back-to-back appointments! Our schedule was crammed full the past two Tuesdays, but now all the Dental Exams and Cleanings are done for the next 6 months! Only Snuggles needs a follow-up appointment to have one of his baby teeth removed sometime within the next month.

From Instagram on Tuesday, January 20th:
My mom just called and said she had a little time this afternoon and asked if I needed any help... "Why YES!!!! I do! If you could meet me at the math tutor's at 1:30, I could then go home with all the little ones and you could take (three of the older children) to their afternoon appointments. The schedule isn't quite as bad as it was last week, but I'll make you a list of who needs to be where and when." ‪#‎thankyoumom‬ ‪#‎youarethebest‬ ‪#‎mydayjustgotsomucheasier‬

Learning all the time... 
We are nearing the end of our Biology course for this year and will begin Physics next month. Lately we have enjoyed observing our five new little friends who have been growing so incredibly fast! We will transfer them to the Butterfly Garden once they become chrysalides. Next up in our Laboratory WorkbooksGrow-a-Frog!

Celebrating the liturgical year...
The Feast of the Purification, which is also called Candlemas due to the traditional blessing of candles at Mass, is coming up on February 2nd. It is customary to bring candles (at least 51% beeswax) from home to be blessed for devotional purposes. Last year, in addition to the candles we had blessed, I ordered a pair of the Raw Beeswax Candles from Bluecorn Naturals which I LOVE! They burn so nicely and are such a beautiful addition to our dinner table. This year I decided to order some extra beeswax candles in various colors. I think the Eggplant Tapers will be perfect for during Lent, the Red Tapers for Pentecost, and the Moss Tapers for ordinary time!  I also need to purchase a couple more pillar candles for creating our 2015 Paschal Candle for Easter and Christ Candle for Christmas.

From the kitchen... 
I've used my crock pot nearly every day this past week. It has been such a huge help! After posting a picture on Instagram last Thursday I had a couple requests for my mom's "Chili for a Crowd" recipe. I made some modifications and rather than trying to type it all up in the comments over at Instagram I'm just going to share it here along with my notes.

Chili for a Crowd
(Serves 8-12) 

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I use 2 lbs)
2 onions, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped (I used 1 bag of Trader Joe's Melange a Trois - Red, Yellow, & Green Bell Pepper Strips found in the frozen section) 
1/2 cup celery, chopped (I omitted the celery) 
1 tsp. chopped garlic (I used 2 cubes of the Dorot brand Crushed Garlic from Trader Joe's) 
3 - 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I used 2 cans of diced and 1 can of tomato sauce)
3 - 16 oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBS chili powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I omitted)

Sauté ground beef, onions, pepper, celery, and garlic. Drain fat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook over medium until it comes to a boil - 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Note: After sautéing I transferred it to my crock pot and stirred in the remaining ingredients. I did this the night before, since I wasn't going to have time in the morning. The next morning I set it on low for 8 hours and it was ready to eat when we arrived home from piano. The crock pot kept the chili warm for the boys' second dinner later that night after hockey! :)

From Instagram on Thursday, January 22nd:
It's so nice to have a little extra help in the kitchen on these busy days... I just walked back in the door and dinner will be ready in 1 minute! Tonight we are having my mom's "Chili for a Crowd" which happens to be "just enough" for our little family... especially on Hockey nights when the boys all end up eating dinner twice!

I am working on... 
I just finished adding a few posts from 2014 to Links for February :: Month Dedicated to the Holy Family. I can't believe February is only a week away!

I am creating...
Yesterday, Friday, January 23rd, was the final day of our second quarter. Our school year is officially half over!!! This weekend I'll be finalizing our plans for the second half of the school year and printing out the children's checklists for our third quarter.

I am going...
I have some Pirouette Cookies hidden away in the pantry, but I am going to need to pick up some Fudge Stripes Cookies and Mini Marshmallows so the kids can make our Candlemas Cookies with Drip Plates again this year.

I am hoping...
and praying, praying, praying, that we will be able to find a permanent replacement for Father K or better yet that God will work a small miracle and bring the FSSP (the order of priests to which my husband's three brothers belong) within driving distance. For the past two years Father has been traveling from a neighboring diocese to offer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at our local parish. In 2013 we were blessed to have the Latin Mass once per quarter and in 2014 the frequency increased to every other month for a total of 10 Masses over the past two years. Unfortunately Father was unable to commit to any Masses in 2015 and we are searching for a replacement. At this time we have a priest who has agreed to make the trip to offer a 7pm Mass on March 1st. It's a start!

I am praying...
a prayer my sister texted me last month. Thank you little sis!

Eternal, Holy God, I come to you burdened with worries, fears, doubts, and troubles. Calm and quiet me with peace of mind. Empty me of the anxiety that disturbs me, of the concerns that weary my spirit, and weigh heavy on my heart. Loosen my grip on the disappointments and grievances I hold on to so tightly. Release me from the pain of past hurts, of present anger and tension, of future fears. Sometimes it's too much for me Lord, too many demands and problems, too much sadness, suffering, and stress. Renew me spiritually and emotionally. Give me new strength, hope, and confidence. Prepare me to meet the constant struggles of daily life with a deeper faith and trust in You. Let your love set me free, for peace, for joy, for grace, for life, for others, forever. Amen.

I am reading…
Today I read a short story to my little ones about St. Francis de Sales from our January Book Basket. We have also been reading our review copy of Treasure and Tradition from St. Augustine Academy Press. Review coming soon!

Pondering these words…
from St. Francis de Sales that were quoted at the beginning of Chapter 7 in Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Guide to Catholic Motherhood:

"Accept the duties which come upon you quietly, and try to fulfill them methodically, one after another. If you attempt to do everything at once, or with confusion, you will only cumber yourself with your own exertions, and by dint of perplexing your mind you will probably be overwhelmed and accomplish nothing." 

I am listening…
to the girls practicing on the piano. They are loving their piano lessons this year. I am so thankful that we have finally found such an excellent piano teacher within driving distance. She teaches upstairs at a Presbyterian church and the girls will participate in their very first recital next month!

From Instagram on Thursday, January 22nd:
The girls are having fun enjoying some of the other instruments while waiting for their piano teacher!

Around the house...
There are always LEGO creations of some sort around our house. This little "King's Castle" is the boys' latest!

One of my favorite things...  
I love ice skating, though I don't get to skate nearly as much as I would like. The children were invited to participate in a local field trip to the rink on Friday the 16th, which happened to be my birthday. The five oldest could skate for free and any other family members only cost $5 each so we all decided to go!

From Instagram on Friday, January 16th:
Oh boy! Her first time ever and my first time in 7-8 (?) years! This should be fun!!!

Sean was able to take the day off work and we brought along a stroller for Bud. It was my first time skating since 2008 and Rose's first time ever. We had such a great time!

This week's plans
Same as usual… Mass on Sunday. Hockey practice on Monday and Thursday nights. Tutors on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  Piano lessons on Thursday afternoon. Hockey games on Saturday morning.

A little peek at my day...
My little cowboy enjoying a boatload of oatmeal!

Isn't his TUG BOWL Dinner Set adorable?! He loves it! Here is one more picture taken just after he unwrapped it last month on his birthday!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Made with Love :: Chocolate Cake, Strawberries & Thirty-Seven Candles!

I didn't think the kids were going to have time (after an afternoon spent ice skating!) which is why I made the Mud Pie, but the girls were putting the final touches on a birthday cake when Sean and I arrived home from our dinner date on my birthday last Friday night! They have decorated my birthday cakes the past couple years and apparently it is now "our tradition!"

We already had a couple chocolate cakes in the freezer (extras I had baked last month when I made from Bud's Farmer Boy Barnyard Birthday Cake, just in case the carrot cake didn't turn out) but I hadn't purchased or prepared any supplies for decorating. The girls frosted the cake and creatively decorated it with some strawberry halves along with the leftover chocolate topping and chopped almonds from the Mud Pie. It was such a delicious combination!

They were able to round up 37 random candles, leftover from all the birthdays this past year, and managed to fit them all on the cake… Even Bud helped!  

Mmmmmmm… I think they might need to make another one next month for St. Valentine's Day! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dairy-Free Cappuccino Almond Fudge Mud Pie

One of my favorite desserts has always been Mud Pie from Baskin-Robbins. I can't enjoy it any more, thanks to my dairy-intolerance, but this past Friday I decided to try and make a homemade dairy-free and gluten-free version for my birthday. It turned out really yummy!

Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free
Cappuccino Almond Fudge Mud Pie


For the Crust:

Using a food processor (I don't own one so I used my Vita-Mix) crush the Gluten-Free Joe-Joe's. Add 4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and mix until combined. Using a spoon, press the cookie mixture into the center of a pie dish working it out from the middle and up the sides.  Place in the Freezer for 10 minutes.

For the Filling: 

Remove the crust from the freezer and add the Coconut Bliss. Depending on the size of your pie dish you may or may not need the full two pints. Spread the Coconut Bliss evenly over the crust, using a mix of both Cappuccino and Almond Fudge.  Place in Freezer for 10 minutes to refreeze while you make the Chocolate Topping. 

Note: Mocha Almond Fudge from SoDelicious would also be perfect for this Mud Pie!

For the Chocolate Topping: 

In a small bowl combine 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, and 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. Mix until smooth. Drizzle over the top of the pie, or spread with a spatula if you prefer to cover the whole pie with chocolate.  

Note:You may need to reheat the chocolate topping if it starts to harden before you have a chance to drizzle it over the top of the pie.

Garnish with non-dairy whipped topping and chopped almonds. 

Note: I did this before placing the Mud Pie back in the freezer, but next time I'll probably add the whip cream just before serving. 

Place the Mud Pie back in the freezer for at least 1 hour before serving. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

{pretty, happy, funny, real} :: Instagram Recap

Has it really been a week since my last post on the blog? Our days have been so full it hasn't left much time for blogging! Here is a little peek at what we've been up to lately.

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life with Like Mother, Like Daughter. ~


January 15th
It's rainy and overcast today, but yesterday was gorgeous! I wish I would have pulled out my camera to capture a few pictures of my three girls up on the hill behind our home with their color pencils and sketchbooks. They loved spending their afternoon enjoying the sunshine!

Chiquita was given a new set of pretty colored pencils from from her Christkindl on Christmas to go along with her favorite sketchbook published by eeBoo

I always love seeing the new additions to my daughters' sketchbooks!


January 13
I survived yesterday! Tutor here for an hour working with my 2nd grader, then five oldest had Math tutoring sessions while I took the youngest two to the next town over for their dental cleanings and exams, back to our little town to pick-up the big kids, drop the oldest boys and babies off at home before heading back to town to drop the 2nd grader off for his dental cleaning and exam while the girls and I went down to the Orthodontist to have wires taken out, back to the Dentist for our cleanings, back to the Orthodontist for wires back in, then back to the Dentist to pick up oldest daughter from her cleaning and exam. Only two more Dental Exams/Cleanings (and two trips to the Ortho for wires in/out) to go next Tuesday afternoon! As exhausting as it was, I'm grateful that our dentist lets me schedule so many appointments back-to-back and that I don't have anything other than a quiet school day at home scheduled for today before another full day tomorrow!

*Note: There wasn't quite enough room to list everything out in my Catholic Daily Planner, so I wrote it all out in my Mama's Notebook so I could keep track of where I needed to be when... Whew! What a DAY! 

January 9
Three things that are making me smile at the moment… 
1. Christmas tree lights. I know I told my husband that I would have the children start removing the ornaments after school today, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it... I'm usually ready to pack it all up right after Epiphany, but this year I just don't want it to end. We cut the tree ourselves and it isn't dropping very many needles yet, so I'm going to enjoy it for a few more days! The Christmas season doesn't officially end until this upcoming Sunday anyways.
2. Theo Nutcracker Brittle. I need to make the mistake of giving the girls dark chocolate in their stockings more often! I was focused on the "Nutcracker" part when I purchased it since I had just taken them to the performance. Whoops!  
3. Our Math progress for this school year. I'm so proud of my children. They got a little jump start during the summer and worked hard all fall keeping up with all of their independent studies. I just pulled out my lesson plans for the first time since we started our Christmas break on Dec. 19th and am so pleased to see that not only are all of them at least right where they need to be, the three oldest will finish 3/4's of their Math books by the end of our second quarter later this month. Saxon Math, combined with the teacher CD-roms and extra help from tutors, has been such a blessing and they are learning so much!


January 14
The older boys' writing assignment for this week is to interview a person and then write a five-paragraph essay based on the interview using their Composition Checklist. I really enjoyed listening to one of the boys interviewing his Grandpa (my Dad) this afternoon and learning more about his childhood! Our oldest son has a phone call scheduled with his Grandma (my mom) later this afternoon and next week they are hoping to interview their other grandparents for next weeks interview assignment. I can't wait to read their essays!

My Dad, the second oldest in a family of nine (Aunt Shannon, followed by seven boys in a row, and ending with Aunt Bridget), has SO many funny stories from his childhood! My siblings and I always loved listening to them while we were growing up, and my children love listening to his stories too.  If you have met my dad you know how much he loves to make everyone laugh! He did manage to remain serious for part of the interview and answered all of Ranger's questions! When he got to the question about where he attended school I was amazed to hear him list all the names. He actually attended a different school nearly every year of his childhood before getting his high-school diploma through the early entry program with the Coast Guard!  


Behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him."~Matthew 2:1-2 

This was the first time I've made Chicken Tikka Masala and I most definitely will not be waiting another year to make it again. It turned out amazing! I just finished posting the recipe at Catholic Cuisine: Chicken Tikka Masala for Epiphany

January 6
Mmmmmm.... Dinner is in the crock pot and already smells amazing! Tonight we will be having Chicken Tikka Masala over basmati rice with fresh cilantro and naan, for today's traditional feast of Epiphany and those wise men from the East!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

{pretty, happy, funny, real} :: A Few Pictures from Christmas Day

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life with Like Mother, Like Daughter. ~


This gorgeous hand-embroidered scapular was tucked into the toe of my stocking this Christmas! 
Isn't it so pretty?!?

Our oldest two daughters also found pretty new scapulars in their stockings too!


Last Easter Bud received a darling embroidered saint pillow from his Godmother. For Christmas she made him another one of his patron saints. He was so happy!


When Captain was opening his stack of books he closed his eyes when he got to one that he thought *might* be a new book from the Brotherband Chronicles. He, of course, knew there would eventually be a new book in the series, but I hadn't told him that Book 5 had been released

It got even better when I told him to open the book and look at the first few pages.  The boys were both so excited when they saw that the book had been signed to both of them by the author! 


Thank you, sweet friend, for making this possible! It was such a treat for our boys!


Of my parents twelve children only a few of us still live in the area. It isn't very often that we are all together, it wasn't quite everyone, but this Christmas my parents, nine of my younger sibling, and Brian's wife and two girls, all came over for drinks and dessert!

The kids played Mr. Men and Little Miss Christmas Mad Libs with their aunts and uncles.

And Kevin kept everyone entertained with his new remote control drone.
(I'm going to have to keep these in mind for my boys! Very fun!)

My husband took a picture of all of us before they left. This picture is just missing my brother Sean and my sister Jamie, who both live on the East coast.  Hopefully someday we will all have the opportunity to be together again.

From left to right: Julianna, Brian, JoAnn, David, Mom, Dad, Jessica, Kevin, Mary, Jennifer, Scott, and Paul

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